Halftime and High-tops: Where Fashion Meets Fitness
An Ode to Michael Jordan
By Mia Kennedy
It began in 1985 when the first pair of Air Jordans were released. Micheal Jordan wore the black and red prototype shoes at a basketball game, where they were immediately banned for not conforming with the colours of the Chicago Bulls uniform. This sparked rumours that the shoes were what made Jordan such a remarkable athlete, rumours reflected in Nike’s advertising. “It’s gotta be the shoes,” one ad boasted under an image of Jordan dunking.
Michael Jordan had already influenced the fashion world through his baggy shorts, sleek berets, and gold hoops, but his collaboration with Nike started a sneaker revolution that’s still alive today.
“Sneakerhead” culture began in the 1980s, when basketball’s influence on fashion coincided with the growth of hip hop. The variety of signature basketball shoes and the popularity of sneakers in hip hop made sneaker collecting go global within a decade of its emergence.
Today, it’s still flourishing. What started with a pair of iconic black and red shoes has turned into a thriving culture, with the most dedicated fans, “sneakerheads,” sometimes spending thousands of dollars in online bids or waiting in line for days for a new pair to drop.
Justin MacLellan, who’s completing a technique in mechanical engineering at Cégep de St-Jean, thinks sneakers can make or break an outfit. “Sneakers are a huge part of my fashion. Even if an outfit is not great, a good pair of sneakers can tie the whole thing together.” Kyle Balian, a first-year Dawson student in Enriched Pure and Applied Science, feels similarly. He says he loves sneakers “because they’re an easy gateway into fashion. They pop. People notice your shoes when you walk into a room.”
Both Justin and Kyle recognize the legendary status of Air Jordans. “Jordans go way back in terms of influence. It’s kind of wild that the first sneaker in the Jordan line still has the highest resale value,” says Kyle. Jordans are “top-tier stuff,” as Justin puts it. Some fans are so eager to add them to their collection that online bids can easily reach the thousands.
Although Justin hasn’t waited in long lines for “drops” or bid online for shoes like some fans, he’s built up a solid collection. “I think I have about nine pairs right now. The most I’ve spent on one pair is probably about 500$.”
That number may raise some eyebrows, but sneakers are more than just shoes for Justin. “I just feel good when I wear them. They make me feel confident.” For Kyle, who’s been building his collection for five years, they’re cultural artifacts as well as fashion statements. “They make me feel connected to the culture. It’s like a wine pairing. You admire the craftsmanship and the culture behind the shoe. There’s this thing when you have sneakers; it becomes a piece of art. You don’t want to tarnish it.”
Although Micheal Jordan’s impact on the fashion world is largely recognized by “sneakerheads”, who knows just how mainstream sneaker collecting could get? Maybe one day wearable art will make its way to a museum near you.